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Only Oswego

Firefighters to Receive State Police Honors for Help During Trooper Hospitalization

Aug 04, 2014 04:17PM ● By Steven Jack
Here's a little-known fact: When Illinois State Troopers are killed or badly injured in the line of duty, fellow Troopers stand guard around the clock outside their homes to provide security for the family. 

And that's just what happened earlier this year when Oswego's own State Trooper Douglas Balder was severely injured in an accident on the East-West Tollway. Both off-duty and on-duty troopers sat outside his family's home 24 hours a day, seven days a week for two months.

During those two months Oswego firefighters would often supply meals to troopers on duty at the home. Firefighters who cook and eat their meals at the firehouse are responsible for paying for their own groceries.

"A lot of us are former police officers," said Oswego Fire Lt. John Cornish. "So, we just wanted to be able to show our support in any way possible. 

The State Police will honor the OFPD's efforts on Friday during a ceremony at the district headquarters in Downers Grove. Illinois State Police Lt. Bob Meeder said a Challenge Coin, certificate and gift cards for groceries will be presented to Oswego firefighters.

"The support was much appreciated," said State Police Lt. Bob Meeder. "We'd like to say our thanks by helping replenish the pantry at the firehouse. They supported us without anyone even asking for it."

Trooper Balder was hurt during a deadly accident on the East-West Tollway Jan. 27. 

The crash killed Tollway worker Vincent Petrella, 39, and left Balder with third-degree burns and many broken bones. Renato V. Velasquez, 46, of Hanover Park was charged with several felony counts in the crash. 

Balder and Petrella had stopped to help a truck driver before Velasquez allegedly drove his own semi into Balder's trooper vehicle, pushing it into Balder and Petrella.

Balder spent months hospitalized and was released from Loyola Medical Center in May. He continues rehabilitation treatments.

Before the accident, Balder had recently returned home after a tour duty in the U.S. Navy.